I can’t believe how long it took me to read The Wife by Meg Wolitzer, but I am so glad I finally did. It’s the story of Joan Castleman, the wife of a famous novelist named Joe. Joan decides to leave him when they’re en route to Helsinki for him to accept a prestigious award. The story then dives back into Joan and Joseph’s marriage, how they met, and how they’ve navigated the decades together.
Joan was Joe’s student, and they got together while he was still with his first wife. Joan is also a writer — but once she’s married to Joe, her identity as a writer disappears and she just becomes his wife. So, it’s a story of a marriage, yes, but it’s so much more than that. Wolitzer is such a master storyteller that you are so sucked into Joan’s life, and choices, that you finish the book feeling like you know her. (I think I read it in two sittings, no joke.) When the twist is revealed — obviously there’s a twist — it’s so smart that you think you should’ve seen it coming but of course you didn’t!!
The best passage:
“Everyone needs a wife; even wives need wives. Wives tend, they hover. Their ears are twin sensitive instruments, satellites picking up the slightest scrape of dissatisfaction. Wives bring broth, we bring paper clips, we bring ourselves and our pliant, warm bodies. We know just what to say to the men who for some reason have a great deal of trouble taking consistent care of themselves or anyone else. ‘Listen,’ we say. ‘Everything will be okay.’ And then, as if our lives depend on it, we make sure it is.”
(And I know I need to watch the movie with Glenn freakin’ Close!)